The Six Essential Elements of Geography

The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes geography as “a science that deals with the description, distribution, and interaction of the diverse physical, biological, and cultural features of the earth’s surface. Simply put, we will learn about the features of the earth and how living things interact and change the earth. Scholars have divided the study of geography into six parts called “The Six Essential Elements of Geography.” A geographically informed person knows:

1. The World in Spatial Terms

a. How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective

b. How to use mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context

c. How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on earth’s surface

2. Places and Regions

a. The physical and human characteristics of places

b. That people create regions to interpret earth’s complexity

c. How culture and experience influence people’s perceptions of places and regions

3. Physical Systems

a. The physical processes that shape the patterns of earth’s surface

b. The characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on earth’s surface

4. Human Systems

a. The characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on earth’s surface

b. The characteristics, distribution, and complexity of earth’s cultural mosaics

c. The patterns and networks of economic interdependence on earth’s surface

d. The processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement

e. How the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of earth’s surface

5. Environment and Society

a. How human actions modify the physical environment

b. How physical systems affect human systems

c. The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources

6. The Uses of Geography

a. How to apply geography to interpret the past

b. How to apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future


Download this lesson as Microsoft Word file or as an Adobe Acrobat file.
Listen to Mr. Dowling read this lesson. (mp3)

Download a lesson plan that includes the Florida Next Generation Sunshine State Standards (2011) as a Microsoft Word file or as an Adobe Acrobat file.

Mr. Donn has an excellent website that includes a section on Geography.